Civil-rights leader the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. visited The Arizona Republic newsroom Wednesday to chat about a variety of issues.
He praised U.S. Sen. John McCain, criticized President Donald Trump and called out local white church leaders for not taking a stand on behalf of detained immigrant children.
Jackson is in town to speak at the A. Philip Randolph Institute’s annual education conference at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak. The conference brings together activists and allies to discuss social and economic justice for working families.
“Working people must fight to work and keep the country strong,” he told The Arizona Republic.
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The civil-rights leader told the room of journalists that an unusual level of violence, growing levels of poverty and wealth extremes are some of the issues that concern him.
“Learn to live together,” he said. “That’s our great challenge. That’s part of the great American narrative.”
Here are the highlights of the discussion:
Jackson was blunt in his criticism of Trump in a variety of areas — from the president’s criticism of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee to allegations that the media is the enemy of the people.
“You are not my enemy,” he told the journalists gathered. “That’s beyond the boundary of civilized dialogue. You cannot surrender. You must keep telling the truth.”
The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media. I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed, including stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear……..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2018
Jackson said he does believe there was interference from a foreign power in the past presidential election. He took issue with Trump criticizing McCain while he battles brain cancer, and said McCain has been among the few to stand up to Trump.
“Agree with him or disagree, Sen. John McCain is a decent man,” Jackson said.
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Jackson said the president has many supporters who follow him blindly, which is why it is important to vote in November.
“What makes America great is the right to fight for rights,” he said. “We see America resisting. You can do that Nov. 6.”
Sports get political
Jackson discussed how numerous black athletes in history have stood up to racist leaders or abusive business owners and improved circumstances for those of all races, from Jesse Owens’ Olympic win in the face of the Nazis to Curtis Flood, the first baseball player to win free agency.
The president has tweeted and spoken out against athletes such as former NFL player Colin Kaepernick and NBA star LeBron James for their views on social justice.
Kaepernick caused an uproar for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence against minorities. The president repeatedly called Kaepernick’s and other players’ actions disrespectful and unpatriotic.
“But we kneel before the cross,” Jackson said, indicating his anger at the attempt to define kneeling as an “act of desecration.”
He said kneeling was used during the civil-rights movement as a way to bring attention to African-Americans’ fight for the right to vote.
The civil-rights leader praised LeBron James for starting a school and giving back to the community.
When he spoke in Detroit at the National Assocation of Black Journalists convention on Saturday, Jackson said the president attacked a man of dignity when he tweeted about the athlete’s interview with CNN correspondent Don Lemon, reported the Detroit Free Press.
President Trump reacted on Twitter to a CNN interview with LeBron James where the NBA superstar criticized the president.
Civil rights and racism
Jackson said sports and technology have become globalized. However, some things are not.
“We have not globalized human rights,” he said.
The civil-rights leader said family separations at the border are unjust.
He connected the Trump administration’s actions to African-Americans being torn apart during slavery.
Jackson said racism is a taught behavior and immoral. He said people need to remember the lessons from slavery and the civil-rights movement.
“White people need to realize how barbaric it was,” Jackson said. He said under slavery, women were raped and people were lynched and treated as assets instead of human beings.
Jackson mentioned that lynching is still not a federal crime in the United States. In June, The New York Times reported, U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, Tim Scott and Kamala Harris introduced a bill that would make the act a federal hate crime.
“The use of blacks as a weapon is based on a white phenomenon,” Jackson said. “Those in power use it.”
He said the goal of Black Lives Matter simply continues an effort that goes back generations.
“It is a new way of saying an old truth,” he said.
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Jackson criticized those who don’t speak up against injustice, saying some people have “courage deficit disorder.”
“Look at the kids in cages today,” he said. “The silence of the white churches is amazing. The silence of these churches in the face of this immoral barbarism is astonishing.”
The civil-rights leader said it is easier for people to blame each other for their problems, but that Americans must come together to make changes that benefit everyone.
“We need to learn to live together,” he said.
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